Signs, signs, everywhere signs

First the neighbors asked if we were moving. Then the mail carrier wanted to know about the rent.

In the bizarro world that is my life lately, the latest crazy thing is the “House For Rent” sign that sprouted on our lawn overnight.

We own our home. (Well, we make mortgage payments.) Yeah, we’ve thought quite a bit lately about unloading it and ditching this D-town, which lately stands for Depression State-Ground Zero. But we’ve not done anything yet. And somehow, with the appearance of this sign, the universe is channeling my deepest fears. The cosmos is playing a dirty trick. In one day, two important things are taken away and a sign appears  suggesting that we are renters and on our way out

Had I not been on week two of a sleep deprivation above and beyond my normal dosage, I would have probably ripped out the sign immediately and stuffed it in the trash along with all the other wayward signs that find their way onto our expansive corner lot. It would have found a home next to the obnoxious “Garage Sale” “Bush/Palin” and “Open House” placards that folks don’t even bother asking permission to place on our grass. Had I not had bigger issues to resolve, such as no cable/phone/Internet service, I would have  inquired around the neighborhood to see if someone was missing a sign.

But I’ve not been myself lately. Just because I see something with my eyes, hear it with my ears, or touch it with my hands does not mean it’s real or true. So I stared at the sign, felt my eyes tear up, and then wondered through the watery blur: Did we sell our house? Did we ever really own it? Are we renters? Did I just emerge from a fugue state for the last decade?

Hoping to clear the haze in my head, I went outside, looked at the number written on the sign and called it.

Of course, no one answered. Of course, the voice mail message was vague. I listened as a sleepy-sounding guy asking me to leave a message. I did. Mr. Sleepy never returned the call.

When I awoke this morning I looked outside. There stood the sign in all its conspicuous glory. No one has rescued this runaway. I went outside and yanked it out of the earth and placed it on its side near the street. Much later, upon returning from errands, I found it planted on another front lawn two blocks north of my house.  Ah, so it’s some sort of misguided marketing strategy or a silly prankster on the move. Whatever the reason, it’s a freaky little message from the universe.

Should we stay or should we go? That’s the question of the moment. We’ve invested nearly a decade in this property. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since childhood. It’s easy to pack up  a place after just a few years. But a decade in, well, now you’re talking about a place steeped in memories.

I cannot look at our living room without thinking of two giddy newlyweds sitting on cushions, eating takeout Chinese food, surrounded by unpacked boxes. I cannot ascend our second-floor staircase without recalling the time when we had the upstairs gutted to the studs, a big hole cut out of the west wall, and my husband’s office doubling as our bedroom for three long months. I cannot tour the big back yard without remembering how it was when we found it: a sea of weeds and overgrown shrubs. Today it is home to a good-sized playground and a massive vegetable garden.

So much time, money, energy and hope poured into this place. We always knew we’d leave it. We never professed a lifetime commitment. The plan was to leave on our own terms, when we were ready. Plans change. Terms change. Are we ready?

The very palpable fear of loss has forced me to appreciate what I have and to fight like hell to save it. If I lose that fight, let me leave with grace.

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